らしい (rashii) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'らしい (rashii) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]'

Sandro Maglione

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らしい (rashii) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

The auxiliary verb らしい (rashii) means it seems that, I heard that, apparently, typical of.

らしい indicates information or news that the speaker thinks or assumes to be true. This assumption comes from something that has been read or heard in other circumstances and that the speaker has reason to believe to be true.

In this post we learn more about the meaning of らしい, how it is formed, and when らしい is used through real example sentences.


How らしい is formed

らしい has 2 main uses as a grammatical expression.

The first use is as an auxiliary verb (助動詞). In this case, らしい follows verbs, adjectives, and nouns without variation:

Verb+らしい
Adjective[い]+らしい
Adjective[な]+らしい
Noun+らしい

日本(にほん)()なかったらしいです。

It looks like he didn't come to Japan.

The second use of らしい is as an auxiliary adjective (形容詞の一部). In these cases らしい follows a noun, which becomes an adjective indicating something that is typical of.

It is also possible to find らしい after the stem form of an adjective or after some adverbs, indicating that something generates a certain emotion:

Noun+らしい
Adjective(Base)+らしい
Adverb+らしい

(かれ)()(ども)らしくない。

He doesn't act like a child.

わざとらしい()(しょう)

A forced laugh.

How and when to use らしい

We have previously introduced the 2 uses of らしい:

  • To indicate something that the speaker believes to be true, translated as it seems that, I have heard that, apparently
  • To indicate something that is typical of

らしい: it seems that, they say that

The first use of らしい indicates an assumption by the speaker that something is true. In these cases, the speaker has reason to believe that what has been said is true, based on previously obtained information.

In any case, the speaker is not 100% sure of what he said. This use of らしい is therefore translated as it seems that, they say that, I have reason to believe.

Let's see an example of dialogue to understand this use of らしい:

アルミ

今日(きょう)、ルカさんは()ないの?

Luca isn't coming today?

ネコ

()ないらしい。

It seems not.

In this example we see how ネコ uses らしい to say that ルカ won't come. This usage of らしい hints that ネコ isn't sure that ルカ won't come, but she heard that he probably will not (apparently).

Usually we don't use らしい to indicate something about ourselves. This is because らしい is based on information obtained from others.

らしい: typical of

The second use of らしい is to mean something that is typical of.

In these cases らしい behaves like an adjective in い, and it can therefore be conjugated and used as such.

This usage of らしい can be used to:

  • Indicate a particular characteristic of someone (it is typical of him/her)
  • Something that is typical of an occasion, event, or period (appropriate)
  • When conjugated in the negative form it is used to indicate something that is unusual, inappropriate

Let's also see an example here:

そんなことを()うのは、(かの)(じょ)らしい。

To say something like that is typical of her.

In this example らしい follows (かの)(じょ) she to indicate that saying such a thing (そんなことを()う) is typical of her, something she often does.


Examples of らしい

()(ぶん)らしくしなさい。

Be yourself.

昨日(きのう)は、(あめ)()ったらしい。

It looks like it rained yesterday.

(そつ)(ぎょう)するらしい。

Looks like he's graduating.

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